The Best of NewCo Shift — 2017
These are the stories you liked best in 2017.
It’s been another great year of remarkable stories on NewCo Shift. This time we want to highlight our most thoughtful commentary throughout this past year. These stories are still relevant today, and highlight what’s at stake in 2018.
Let us know what you’re interested in us covering your company next year (we’d like to feature one cool new NewCo each week) or pitch your own stories at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading, and for those Medium claps. It means a lot to us. Happy New Year!
2017 was a tough year in politics, but early on Peter Leyden managed to paint a positive take on where we might be heading as a country with this viral hit. Almost one year later, we continue to be a divided country with no clear path forward, but recent Democratic wins in state races and an unlikely senatorial race win at the federal level may be an early indication that the blue wave that Leyden predicted the day before Trump’s inauguration might be just around the corner.
2017 saw lots of stories about the end of oil, but very few of these stories give the specifics of the decline of black gold. Seth Miller wrote about those specifics in this article for NewCo Shift. It basically comes down to economics: Consumers are tired of paying for the repairs and constant oil changes for their non-electric vehicles. After all, consumers will always chose the cheaper option for their wallets. In addition, self-driving vehicles combine the capital savings from an longer lifecycle with the savings from the eventual elimination of the driver — making the vehicle an income stream to boot.
According to Miller, the costs of electric self-driving cars will be so low, it will be cheaper to hail a ride than to drive the car you already own.
One of our most popular pieces this year came from Chloe Condon, who showcased the gender imbalance that plagues silicon valley to this day (her piece pre-saged the #MeToo movement as well). Her message: “With the many attempts to get ‘more women in tech’ and ‘add diversity to teams’, it’s important to approach this issue with passion and enthusiasm, but also with a sense of humor and forgiveness.”
Sexism in Silicon Valley was a big topic in 2017, but it will also play a big role in 2018 — we’re sure the stories are only beginning, both at the Four (GAFA) and small startups alike. One story that may be of use next year is Annie Feighery explaining how to avoid working with a sexist employee. Maybe by asking a potential boss/colleague/partner/co-founder/employee: “Tell me about the strong women in your life.” A smart way to avoid the problem before it starts.
Oh boy, this story was spot on. Almost exactly a year after Ross Mayfield wrote this story, pretty much all of it has started to come together. This was not a good year for Silicon Valley’s PR department starting with Uber’s Susan Flower story, who happened to be featured as Time’s person of year among many other women of the #MeToo movement. Facebook and Twitter were also vilified due to their involvement in the spread of misinformation that has resulted in a toxic political environment. Apple is not closing the year right for perceived planned obsolescence and Amazon has plenty of its own PR nightmares. This will get worse in 2018 if tech doesn’t address its inherent toxic externalities.
Silicon Valley has become America’s public enemy #1. In this popular piece, Ankur Jain, founder of Kairos, presents the case on why it deserves this distinction. “Over $160bn in venture capital are going into startups each year — and yet most of the new innovation is driven by the latest hype cycle, not the real problems we face,” writes Jain about Silicon Valley’s purposeless fads that can raise millions — the $700 juicer, luxury buses or Uber for babies. His answer? Invest in problems that matter, and start with our vanishing middle class.
Yes, Organic Farming Will Kill Us All
The future of farming is often a topic that doesn’t get much coverage, but Chris Newman has been covering the topic for us throughout the year. One of his most popular posts Newman argues that organic farming is little more than conventional farming with all the tools taken away. It’s a well-intended but insane way to farm, and it will kill us all if we decide this is the way to “fix” agriculture. Read his ideas on the impact on how we feed ourselves.
Last year, former Labor Secretary under Clinton and now UC Berkeley professor Robert Reich was a featured speaker at Shift Forum where he talked about Trump, and if you are familiar with Reich you probably know how it went. In conversation with John Heilemann, author of Game Change, Double Down, and co-creator and host of Showtime’s The Circus, Reich pulls not a single punch, questioning President Trump’s policies, practices, and, at one point, his basic sanity. One year after, his comments hold very well.
Just how wasteful is our culture? Ali El Idrissi gives a small glimpse of our waste with this quote, “Sixty percent of all clothing ends up in incinerators or landfills within a year. Only 3.1 percent of the world’s children live in America, but they own 40 percent of the toys consumed globally. Nearly 40 percent of food in America goes to waste. Each year, Americans throw away 70 pounds of clothing per person.” So how are we supposed to change that? Read on for some suggestions.
This year saw Google implement a fact based assessment in their algorithm, and Google tends to not tell people how their algorithm works, so it was a surprise when they made an announcement back in April that they would be taking measures to punish “low quality content” such as misleading information, offensive results, hoaxes and conspiracy theories. Will this result in the end of Fake News or widespread censorship?